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What is Neospora Caninum?

There are many silent killers in this world, and cancer is usually the first one we think of. However, that is not the only silent lurker when it comes to pet disease. Neosporosis is a very deadly parasite that lives in infected cattle, mostly. This is important to note for pet owners that feed their pets raw diets or possibly live on ranches.

Neosporosis parasites start as unsporulated oocytes, which are passed through feces, water, food, or soil. Once ingested, they live in the body and become sporulated. The final, and deadliest, is when they are fully grown into tachyzoites.

Neosporosis can affect any species of animal, whether they are domestic, captive, or wild. Neosporosis is also widely known to affect unborn animals, just like toxoplasmosis.

Canine Neosporosis is a microscopic protozoan parasite with worldwide distribution. A disease similar to toxoplasmosis, it attacks animal’s brain and spinal cord and slowly shuts down their body. Neospora caninum is a very deadly parasite that should not be taken lightly. Be aware of your dog’s whereabouts and do not feed them raw beef if at all possible. It could be a simple step in saving their life against a tragedy. If you are the owner of cattle as well, vaccinate your livestock to help prevent the spread of this deadly disease.

Neospora Caninum Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Neospora Caninum in Dogs

As with most parasitic diseases, symptoms may not always be prevalent until it is too late. When symptoms do show, they come on very quickly and progress rapidly. One account of a pet owner whose dog received Neosporosis after eating raw hamburger mince was that the symptoms showed up after only two days. Symptoms include:

  • Hindlimb paralysis (commonly in puppies)
  • Ulcers
  • Pneumonia
  • Peritonitis - an infection of the lining of the abdomen after a rupture

  • Hepatitis
  • Staggering
  • Slow reflexes or reaction time
  • Blindness

If you recognize any of these symptoms, take your pet to the veterinarian immediately. If it is caught in early stages, they can give your dog medicine to help treat the symptoms of neosporosis.

Types

There is only one kind of neosporosis, and that is neospora canum. Even though the disease is mostly spread by infected cattle, there is no other form of this parasite. It is very closely related to Toxoplasma gondii, which made it difficult to diagnose for years.

Norway was the first country to distinguish the difference between the two in the mid-1980s, naming Neosporosis as a muscular degeneration type disorder. Since its increase of cases and further studies, veterinarians now have the ability to tell the difference between Neosporosis and toxoplasmosis.

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Causes of Neospora Caninum in Dogs

As previously mentioned, Neospora canum is transferred mostly by infected livestock, particularly cattle. This can be because a dog eats an infected, aborted placenta or from eating raw beef. Dogs will contract the parasites from eating tissue of an infected animal that has the parasite cysts in it.

Once the dog eats the infected flesh, the oocytes bursts and the life cycle starts all over again. The parasites create new oocytes in the dog’s body, which are shed through feces and then the cattle eat the infected soil which causes a full circle.

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Diagnosis of Neospora Caninum in Dogs

There are many steps to diagnosis Neosporosis as it must be checked with complete accuracy. Without careful scrutiny, your pet could be misdiagnosed and not given the proper treatment. When in the hospital, your vet will perform tests such as:

  • Biopsy
  • PCR/Immunohistochemistry
  • Serum Antibodies
  • Smears

The veterinarians will use a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to check for disruptions in the pet’s DNA due to parasites in the tissues. This is the most common and effective way to check for Neosporosis, although some veterinarians will do various biopsies to check tissues for parasites as well.

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Treatment of Neospora Caninum in Dogs

Unfortunately, there is no full treatment for Neosporosis. If in small puppies, young dogs, or senior dogs the paralysis has already set in, it is too late. There are a set of drugs that can be given to help ease symptoms and provide comfort for your pet, but it is likely they will not recover.

The drugs that are commonly prescribed for Neospora caninum are clindamycin for about 4 weeks up to 8 weeks. They may also prescribe trimethoprim-sulfadiazine and pyrimethamine. For puppies, if one puppy is diagnosed, it is important that a pet owner distributes treatment to littermates before symptoms start showing.

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Recovery of Neospora Caninum in Dogs

Puppies have a very low prognosis as do senior dogs. For them, it is better that you just keep them comfortable and give them their full medication until the end. The pet owner in the previously mentioned story made the decision to put her pet to sleep to reduce its suffering.

For puppies, it is hard to prevent the disease as it is contracted congenitally, however, you can help prevent it in older dogs by keeping them away from livestock and not feeding them raw beef. This reduces the risk of them contracting the disease accidentally.

There is a vaccine that livestock owners can give their cattle to help prevent the contraction of Neosporosis. It is 81% effective, which is a great deal better than leaving cattle unvaccinated. This could be the future of keeping both cattle and canines safe.

While there have been no reported cases of Neospora caninum affecting humans, it is probably better that pregnant women should have minimal contact with infected dogs or cattle. Because it is related to toxoplasma gondii, which is transmitted through cats, there is a chance it could have the same effect on unborn humans as well.

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Neospora Caninum Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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Neospora Caninum Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Crown

dog-breed-icon

shepherd/boxer

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Crippled, Rear Legs, Incontinent

I have a shepherd/boxer mix that was brought to me after being found in a box roadside. He could not stand steadily on his rear legs, worked with him, never really steadied. Took him to to university vet clinic, did a neurological exam. Opinion was probably an infection of some type in very early puppyhood that caused this problem. He is currently three years old, still cannot use one rear leg, kind of uses the other to hop on. Question is could this be neospora, he is in excellent health otherwise. Thank you for your time.

June 27, 2018

Crown's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Neospora or other infections of the meninges as a young dog that was not treated could lead to long lasting damage. I'm glad that you were able to keep him and work with him, but I'm not sure that he will regain use of that leg. He may benefit from physical therapy?

June 27, 2018

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Puma

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Dogo Argentino

dog-age-icon

11 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Pain
Lethargy
Weakness
Stiffness

I have an 11 mos old Dogo Argentino that I have been treating for suspected SRMA for the past two months. A week ago I noticed a swollen testicle. I did an ultrasound and needle aspirate biopsy and cytology of the testicle. He has been diagnosed with Neospora in his testicle. I am currently weaning him off of Prednisone and am treating with SMZ and Clindamycin. Have you ever had a report of this being in a testicle? Thanks in advance.

Dec. 29, 2017

Puma's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

I have never thought at Neospora caninum being present in a testicle and I couldn’t find anything about it either; it is known for causing abortion in some species but I don’t know about it being present in the testicles. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 29, 2017

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Pablo

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Pointer

dog-age-icon

approx. 7

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness
Neospora
Stiffness In Neck
Apathetic
Pulsation On Head

Hello, we adopted our Pablo from a state animal shelter.He is a male Pointer approx.7 years old and was found weighting only 18kg (now he is 26kg).Pablo was positive on Leishmaniasis and Ehrlichiosis and now was diagnosed positive on Neospora,Toxoplasmosis and Anaplasmosis.We did the tests for Neospora/Toxoplasmosis cause he did have symptoms like Stiffness in the neck (could not bent down to eat), was apathetic and appeared to be in pain when doing certain movments. He is now taking medication for all of those illnesses, his general Blood and cidney test are ok and the medications seam to help at, at least Pablo does not have any symptoms since he takes the medication (exept the pulsation on his head this is still there). My question is: beside the medications he already takes could a blood transfusion be of any help fighting the Neospora and Toxoplasmosis? Many thanks in advance!

Nov. 4, 2017

Pablo's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

A blood transfusion would be of little or no value in this case unless it was required to help boost red blood cell or platelet counts during some concurrent treatment. Continue to follow the instructions from your Veterinarian regarding treatment and monitor for improvement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Nov. 4, 2017

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Ivy

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Golden Retreiver

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4 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Minor Head Bobble
Minor Unsteady On Legs

Looks like we have successfully treated neospora with 8 weeks of tablets. No clinical signs for 3 months. However we had a retest and titre levels haven't gone down at all. There doesn't seem to be much research on this available does this mean we are in the all clear or could it come back at any time?

Oct. 31, 2017

Ivy's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

The problem with Neospora infections is that they may be asymptomatic meaning that a dog can be infected but not show any symptoms; antibody titres are reliable ways of showing the body’s response to an infection but may persist after an infection has been treated, PCR to detect genetic material of pathogens is being developed for Neospora but isn’t widely used. I would continue to monitor the antibody titres and keep an eye for signs of symptomatic disease. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Oct. 31, 2017

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Damson

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Lurcher

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10 Years

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

My dog has been eating raw meat for years. It has been frozen but contains beef as well as other meats from the butcher's. In Britain, the farming press quotes 51% of cattle as infected. Is there a real danger in continuing to feed it raw, or should I cook it?

Oct. 16, 2017

Damson's Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Whilst I understand your concerns, freezing meat will kill the parasite so make sure that you freeze your meat for a few days before thawing; you can start to cook it to cover all bases but freezing is sufficient in killing the tissue cysts. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.fwi.co.uk/livestock/neospora-added-cattle-health-scheme-disease-list.htm www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1865591/

Oct. 16, 2017

I shall pass on this information to all my dog-owning friends as there is very little on the subject that I can find on British sites. Thank you very much.

Oct. 17, 2017

Damson's Owner

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Molly

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Golden Retriever

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures
Tremors
Rash
Partial Paralysis

My Golden retriever might have Neospora. Not entirely sure, I need to follow up with another appointment. About a month ago, our dog got a really bad seizure. Took her to the pet ER and they diagnosed her with epilepsy and started her on meds. After three seizure, we noticed her hind legs not acting as normal. Having trouble walk up the stairs. Also notice that the color pigment in her nose changed, showing patches of pink where it ise to be black. Anyways, she had another seizure just a couple of days ago. This time she camp developed sores near her nose that she constantly scratches along with the pigment in her nose going ever more pink loosing its blackness. She has tremors when she sleeps and it seems like her hind legs are struggling more. I starting not to sound like epilepsy and more like nerospora. Will continue to give her anti-convulsion meds, but I am going to bring with up with the vet the next time I see them which will be very soon

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Mir

dog-breed-icon

French Bulldog

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Anxiety
Lack Of Coordination
Dizzyness
Seisures

My 10yo french bulldog has been tested positive for neospora after an MRI and encefalic brain fluid analysis. We're treating him with anibiotics and anti-convulsion medication, because seisures were his main symptom, along with dizziness and difficulty standing. He has improved a lot after 5 days of corticoids and began antibiotics in the meantime. But I'm scared after reading this page, is neospora impossible to treat? He never showed any kind of limb paralysis, the worst were the seisures, which have stopped. Is there hope of a full recovery and being neospora free?

dog-name-icon

Widget

dog-breed-icon

Pomeranian

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Tired
Pain When Lifted
Can'T Use Back Leg

Hi :( my dog is 7 year old pom. He was diagnosed with neospara 2 months ago. My Dr has never seen this before. He homes his back left leg up and his front leg is also giving him issues. We put him on clindamacin, at 7 weeks his white counts started going back up. He changed the antibiotic to sulfadiazine. My dog still can not use back leg. Dr wants rk add a high does sterile. Has anyone had steroids added to the treatment ?

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Mylo

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Greyhound

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Loss Of Appetite
Muscle Weakness
Rapid Weight Loss

We got Mylo as a rescue greyhound aged just 1 year. He is a lovely boy and full of energy. When we adopted him, we were concerned that he was kennelled with his brother who had paralysis in his rear end and was incontinent. The kennels assured us that this was not heriditary and his brothers problem was neurological. Mylo has always been full of energy and loves to play. During the 2 years we have had him, we did notice that very occasionally his rear legs would seem to "misfire" and also also he is not the most reliable when it comes to urinating - we put this down to him being an anxious dog as he did not like tube separated from us at all. Fast forward to now and he has a positive diagnosis for Neospora and not doing well all. A few months ago, we noticed that he seemed to have a general lethargy and was not as active as he used to be. Also coupled with this he seemed to have an great thirst - he would drink 3 - 4 litres a day - and of course wee a load more - he also started to become more unreliable indoors and starting having more accidents indoors (urinating). He seemed to loose the ability to be able to jump up onto his favourite bed also. We took him to the vets and then started a seemingly endless raft of tests. Blood tests showed really strange results with elevated liver enzymes slight low white count and very high CK results. We spend a long time having test after test with no diagnosis. About 3 - 4 weeks ago he took a turn for the worse and suddenly started going downhill rapidly and has lost his appetite - within 1 week he went from 33kg to 28kg and has become extremely unsteady on his legs. Our vet suspected Neospora and started treating accordingly thankfully whilst we waited for the results which came back positive. That brings us to where we are now - we are desperately trying to feed him anything to get him to put on some weight but just when we think we are getting somewhere, he doesn't want to eat the next day. He is terribly unsteady on his legs and often times for some reason he will just stand in the one spot looking vacant. He has moments when he has a sudden lease of life - like last night he played ball with our other dog which surprised us, but after that it was back to being very wobbly. We are about 3 weeks into treating him with Clindamycin and unfortunately we have not seem any improvement in his condition. At the moment it seems to be a battle to see if we can stop the weight loss and try to get some weight on him - but I hate to admit it, it seems like a loosing battle. I will update this later if I can. The reason for posting this was to let people know that Mylo must have contracted Neospora through his mothers placenta and it has laid relatively dormant in Mylo for almost 3 years and then something has triggered this into action with devastating results. It seems more than likely this is what his brother had as a puppy but for some reason it did not manifest in Mylo until now - I just wish I knew then what I know know as we could have helped our lovely boy much earlier.

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Ginny

dog-breed-icon

terrier

dog-age-icon

6 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness

My puppy Ginny one day just stopped using one of her hind legs. No trauma was noted no injuries was seen. We took her to the vet and sent us home saying it was growing pains. We went back two days later and said something has to be wrong. They did X-ray and did lab work CBC and UA. Came back clean. They said come back in a week. Well the limping turned into a foot drop and it started affecting the other leg. She still has some contractures in her hind legs to sometime pick her self up but then just drags them. She is able to hold her urine but as soon as she is picked up or puts pressure on the bladder she pees.... the vet finally saw the urgency and gave her antibiotics for Neosporosis two days ago. I’m hoping it’s not too late. My question is (I’m a chiropractor) I’ve studied the nerves system. I’ve checked her sensory (light touch and pain) and motor components of her hind legs and it still there. She just doesn’t want to use her hind legs I’m guessing because of pain and being uncomfortable. Her bladder is only affected with increase interthecal pressure. With all this is info, is it to late?

Neospora Caninum Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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